tv NOW With Alex Wagner MSNBC July 17, 2012 9:00am-10:00am PDT
forever changed the vice presidential nominating process, msnbc political analyst and national affairs editor for "new york" magazine with a deep tan, john heilemann is here. msnbc political analyst and former rnc chair, the notorious michael steele. co-host of msnbc's "the cycle." steve kornacki. and the lovely msnbc political analyst, former dnc communications director and columnist for the hill, karen finney. the longest set of introductions we have ever had. all right. moving on. team obama has been jabbing governor romney on his tax returns, asking why he won't release more. today, a new campaign ad cuts to the chase. did romney pay any taxes at all? >> romney admits that over the last two years, he's paid less than 15% in taxes on $43 million in income. makes you wonder if some years he paid any taxes at all. we don't know because romney has released just one full year of his tax returns. >> meanwhile, the obama campaign
is keeping up its attacks on romney's connection to bain and the firm's record of outsourcing. >> we are not suggesting that romney committed a crime here. we're actually suggesting he's not being up front with the american people about what his involvement was with bain. but again, i find this whole discussion about when exactly he left bain to be ironic. there's plenty to talk about for the years that he was at bain. >> and as the romney campaign searches for an answer to these attacks, the president has stopped using teleprompters at his rallies, a symbolic moves that shows he and his campaign may have found their groove. john heilemann, new fresh meat online from the national view, an interview with mitt romney in which mitt romney is asked about his taxes and he says i'm simply not enthusiastic about giving them hundreds or thousands of more pages to pick through, distort and lie about. we'll get to the comments he had on bain in a second.
>> you wouldn't be enthusiastic about that either, would you? especially if you had that many pages of tax returns. >> exactly. >> signifies you have a lot of taxable income. >> but your colleague, your friend, your co-author, mark halperin, writes about the obama campaign and how they sort of orchestrated this the last couple weeks and said they parcelled out their opposition research in a manner both strategic and tactical and there is more to come, for sure. why has team romney not at this point developed an adequate response? other than i'm not enthusiastic. >> to what? >> i'm simply not enthusiastic about releasing the paperwork? >> he's not enthusiastic, because there's that adequate response. look, i think george will, first, mark is exactly right. a few months ago i was sitting with a senior white house official who said we have a handful of cards we want to play and if this campaign goes well, we will play them and play them in a certain order. they had a long time to do research on governor romney.
nothing, i say this is not -- no break criticizing my fellow journalist, people who have been covering this story, a lot of this stuff is coming from the obama campaign. they stretched this story out with great political expertise and have taken up much more time out of this summer, where they're not talking about barack obama's economic performance which is what the romney campaign wants to talk about. the tax issue is forever baffling and you know, we had george will this sunday say that romney's a rationalist, making a calculation that the amount of income he's taken, the damage he's suffering now is less than the damage he would suffer if he put the tax returns out. i think that's a perfectly plausible explanation. is it because they know that there's more cayman, swiss, bermuda, all that stuff which resonates a lot, it turns out, with independent swing voters in a lot of swing states. is it because he paid a 0% effective tax rate for a number of years and that would be horrible. is it because he's uncomfortable with a vast amount of money he
will almost definitely have given to the mormon church and he doesn't want to have that discussion. it could be any of those things. look, they had years to deal with this. they did not deal with it. it's not a mistake they didn't deal with it. it may prove to be an error. what i mean is it's not accidental, not like they stumbled into this. they have made calculations about what the costs will be and they may actually be right. for all that he's taking now, it could be worse because we don't know what's there. >> michael steele, as a republican, as a former elder statesman of the party, i mean that not with regards to age but accomplishment, mitt romney in the same national review interview talking about bain says i don't worry a lot about what's being said from day to day. my own view is that people will recognize that i was instrumental in helping build a very successful business that employed a lot of people and that our business was able to invest in other people's dreams, many of which were successful. can he keep saying this? >> no. >> until november?
>> no one sees themselves in that comment. that's the problem. people do not see themselves reflected in that statement because what they see is a guy who has something to hide. you're absolutely right, john, the obama team has been incredibly expert to the point that it's almost obvious what they're doing. they're playing these cards. guess what? jobs report comes out next month, folks. do you know what card they're going to play? they're just playing it out there. so this is part of a series of steps that they've taken. the fact that there has been such a timid limp response to me is astounding, particularly given that when -- this all began when the jobs report came out for june and it was like clockwork. the reality for romney right now is you're now a bigger story than the jobs report, and that's not how this should be played out. he needs to pivot back on this thing, put the paper -- have a moses moment, let my taxes go -- >> let my taxes be free.
>> put that out there, deal with the 24 hours news cycle that will be that storm if there is anything to your point, and move on. >> unless it's a lot more than a 24 hour storm. >> well, it could be at this point but -- >> twogs. thin tactically, if it were me, i would have done this a year and a half ago. get five reporters in the room, you brief, set the frame of the story so you can say no, we did that a year and a half ago. second, i disagree with you in that we've talked before about this strategy. this is a strategy in three or four acts. we're in act two, my friend, so hold on. >> from the obama campaign. >> but the jobs report had nothing to do with why we're now talking about taxes and bain. because the whole idea is this is a whole narrative about mitt romney, the way he has run his business, the way he was governor and this idea that now that he's somebody who you can't trust because he's for abortion, he's against abortion, now it's because he won't tell you what's
in his tax returns. also this idea that he says, you know, my name was on these forms for bain but i didn't know what was going on. tell you what, every american understands when you sign your tax forms and send them in or you sign a loan agreement, you're accountable, you're responsible. for him to say my name might have been on it but i wasn't really responsible, people just don't buy that. that's not going to go away. and there's more i think in this in terms of how he then took those values from bain, the outsourcing, who knows, skirting the effective tax rate -- >> just one point. i get all of that. but what kills me in this whole narrative is how we have allowed or how they have allowed the idea of outsourcing, the idea of bain, be a criminal enterprise and that to me is just the most ridiculous. do you know our olympians are wearing outsourced uniforms, for goodness' sakes? this is the reality of america in the 21st century. >> steve kornacki is an expert in all things that happened in the '90s. i want to ask him to do that again. because this is something mitt romney did when he was running
for governor, separate himself from the good parts of bain and the bad parts of bain and assume that everybody will sort of not ask any questions. i think the fundamental issue is that he never made the argument for bain and said you know what, private equity sometimes jobs go overseas. sometimes that happens. but that's part of american enterprise. he said i did the good stuff. the bad stuff -- >> and that's -- it was really the gubernatorial race. the key thing that happened was at the start of that year when he came back from utah to massachusetts, he had to defend his residency. his defense to the ballot law commission in massachusetts was basically it was a leave of absence from bain. i always intended to come back to bain. it was only at the end of my time in utah that i decided i'm going to pursue politics. it was in october of that year, in the last two weeks of that campaign when the race was tied, the democrats discovered the gst story, the factory in kansas city had been shut down. that is when the current romney version of events that oh, i stopped having anything to do
with bain in february 1999, that's when that version of events was born. that's what he's been stuck with for ten years. trying to defend that in the last two weeks of the campaign in massachusetts is one thing. trying to defend that posture now when you have the president of the united states and his political team coming after you and i think more crucially in terms of romney, the problem here is the media has latched on to this. the media has latched on to the inconsistencies, weak excuses, weak explanations, and they won't rest until they get something solid. >> i want to read something from the "new york times" today. the romney campaign doesn't seem to know how to respond. it has been his job to be the corporate version of a personal trainer, take people who are puffy and self-indulgent and whip them into shape. that's his selling point. rigor and productivity. if he can build a capitalist vision around that he'll thrive. if not he's a punching bag. do you think the window is closing to develop this? >> it probably closed a long time ago. to your point, which is spot-on, there are two different things about bain. one is there were two campaign imperatives. there's an offensive and defensive component. the defense component is the one steve's talking about.
since 1994 or 2002 or 2008, bain, how we defend this record. they should have had a phone book, already by the time this started that would have been an answer to every question. they still cannot answer the question who was running bain from 1999 to 2002. there is not an adequate answer to that question today. that should have been in a book written five years ago. that's the defense. offense, where is the defense of outsourcing. you can say it's politically toxic but the bottom line is it's a global economy. there's an argument that a free market capitalist could make and if he had made that argument, this entire debate about 1999 to 2002 would have gone away because it wouldn't have mattered who was running bain when the companies were outsourcing if you're for outsourcing because it helps make the american economy more efficient. none of this matters. you're arguing from offense about why your vision of private equity, how it helped transform the american economy is what romney brings to the white house. never made the defense, never made the offense. you're not doing either, you're
sort of hosed. >> in our mental library, there is no encyclopedia. we are going to examine how long you can stretch out a veep reveal by asking ourselves how long you can stretch out a veep reveal, next on "now." [ donovan ] i hit a wall. and i thought "i can't do this, it's just too hard." then there was a moment. when i decided to find a way to keep going. go for olympic gold and go to college too. [ male announcer ] every day we help students earn their bachelor's or master's degree for tomorrow's careers. this is your moment. let nothing stand in your way. devry university, proud to support the education
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envy of the world. it is the american way and i wish this president would learn how to be an american. >> that was former new hampshire governor, john sununu on a romney campaign conference call a few moments ago. governor romney's campaign is weighing an early announcement of his running mate. campaign senior advisor eric fernstrom tells reporters an announcement could be made this week but so far, he hasn't made up his mind on who that will be. they have two windows left to make the announcement, sometime before next friday when he leaves for the olympics, or two weeks before the convention in the second half of august. karen, there seems to be some clear strategy here. we'll talk about sununu in a second. in terms of the veep-stakes, as the proverbial whatever it is hitting the fan, i'm not going to say, because what we're seeing here is some version of an offensive strategy, right? >> no answer interestingly enough.
>> no answers on any of the things we were talking about before, but the question of sununu did clarify it's the president who has to learn the american formula for creating business. i don't know if that counts as a walk-back. >> this goes to something we were just talking about in terms of romney doesn't have a narrative or an answer to explain that form of business. that's how he sees the american business climate. remember that we're talking about the time when we learn that tyco and a lot of companies were offshoring their money, reducing their effective tax rates, and for a lot of americans, inherent in that comment is this idea that he doesn't understand, sununu, that there's a different set of rules. that's how most americans feel. americans in the heartland who see those ads about outsourcing get that that's how the american economy worked but it didn't work for them. and that's the different conversation president obama is having than the conversation that mitt romney and john sununu is having. obviously also inherent in that
is all sorts of racist commentary and it's very clear that between this and floating different names like condi rice for vp, it's -- >> bobby jindal. >> -- trying to distract from having to answer the question and not taking on, again, this idea that you're only speaking to one part of america. you're not understanding that america is a much more culturally, ethnically and economically diverse country. >> whenever romney tries to tackle that, i want to bring up comments he made last night, i thought this was so -- i'll read it. the waiters and waitresses that come in and out of this room and offer us refreshments are not having a good year. the people of the middle class of america are really struggling, dot, dot, dot. we're the party of people who want to get rich. and we're also the party of people who want to care to help people from getting poor. we want to help the poor. we also want to make sure people don't have to become poor. and we know what it takes to keep people from becoming poor. now, michael steele -- >> why do you come to me on this?
>> i don't -- >> i wasn't in the room. >> it's like he needs to take like vocal lessons, a la eliza doolittle. >> it's not vocal. it's tonal lessons. it's understanding -- but you are actually on point. the fact is it does further the narrative that karen was just alluding to about how people perceive your description of the economy. do i fit in that, do i see myself reflected in that, and people at this stage to the extent that they're tuned out, don't. that's been part of the problem. obama has the luxury right now of talking about everything except this economy, except the job numbers that have come out, except the relationship with his own corporate funny money with solyndra and the like. >> now, michael. >> i'm just saying, i'm just
saying that's the reality of it for him right now. i really think that you know, the vp nomination and that process, all you're doing now, unless they get this stuff cleaned up, is you've got one more person's going to have a microphone in front of their face being asked about bain, being asked about taxes, whether -- how many tax returns are you releasing versus -- >> versus the president. or the presidential candidate. yeah. >> this is the problem that all of this has set up and led up to for the romney team. fortunately, it's the middle of summer, and it is not post-convention. >> that's the question of how long you can stretch potentially breaking news of a vp nomination and are you still a rob portman man? >> well, how long you can stretch it, you know, we used to have a toy, stretch armstrong, remember that toy? you know, they do, if they do it before he leaves for the
olympics, it will consume a week and if they do it in the two weeks after the second half of august, they can probably get a week out of it. i think if one of the top, what looks like the short list gets nominated, it's going to be relatively and they want it to be a relatively short story. obviously they want to get the attention off the current morass they're in. on the last point, i will say having been four square with rob portman from the get-go, i'm starting to get a little weird bobby jindal -- >> a case of the jindals. >> i'm getting a -- you know, the romney campaign is still more worried than you would think about the conservative base, and they're also increasingly in this setting worried about i think, they love rob portman and romney i think personally really likes rob portman a lot. the bobby jindal does not have any bush on him and that's something rob portman is the only drawback to portman, he got a little bush on him and bush, it's hard to get that out.
there's not -- >> need a stain stick for that. >> bobby jindal, clean of that stain. >> it just doesn't sound -- >> something about that syntax. we will leave it there. we didn't get to talk about the fact condi rice or bust. after the break, mr. cheney goes to washington. the former vice president and former halliburton chief gives republican leaders a pep talk about what else, defense. [ man ] ever year, sophia and i use the points we earn with our citi thankyou card for a relaxing vacation. ♪ sometimes, we go for a ride in the park. maybe do a little sightseeing. or, get some fresh air. but this summer, we used our thank youpoints to just hang out with a few friends in london. [ male announcer ] the citi thankyou visa card.
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joining us now from washington is the sage of capitol hill, luke russert. great to see you, my friend. >> great to see you. how are you? >> i'm good. i will ask you the question that was bandied about at the -- in the white house press gaggle a few moments ago. josh earnest saying it does seem odd to me that house republicans would be taking budget advice from somebody who famously declared that deficits don't matter. the president has a different view. what is dick cheney doing on the hill today? >> it's interesting. first and foremost he's going to meet with the gop leadership as you mentioned but then he will meet with gop whip mccarthy's whip team which is essentially about 35 or so house republicans that are in charge of counting votes and getting members on board with a plan. now, republicans in the past have been able to sort of say all right, we're not going to have this sequestration go in effect, let's create more spending cuts in programs that liberals hold near and dear.
what dick cheney is going to do is apparently go to these authorize whip team and tell them just how dreadful these cuts would be to dod. i asked the same question you posed to the gop leadership and they said quote, the former vice president and secretary of defense obviously has a valuable perspective on the devastating impact of obama's defense sequester that they feel will be invaluable to their members. so the idea here is here's dick cheney, a guy that you all know, love and trust from his eight years as vice president, he knows what he's talking about, you should listen to him on this, you can't let these things move forward. and it's an interesting perspective, alex, considering that the gop's whole mantra has been deficit reduction and as you mentioned before, this is -- dick cheney was under an administration with medicare part d was not funded with the tax cut. >> an interesting narrative that is emerging is these are obama's defense cuts which is amazing given the fact it was a bipartisan deal. >> correct. >> it definitely seems to be
trying to place it squarely on the president's shoulders. >> that's what you're seeing now. there's a study now from the trade group aerospace industries association which most folks say would lean more right than left, says this would kill a million jobs. now, folks challenge that number but we will start seeing now house republicans say these are obama's defense cuts, they are going to kill a million jobs, and the reality of the situation on the ground, if you look at states like florida, north carolina, ohio, virginia, these important swing states, a lot of them have a ton of defense contract industries within them and you can see pink slips coming a few weeks before the election if nothing is done. that is why you're going to see this issue really sort of flare up as we move toward the election day. >> luke, we always say it's nasty out there, but it really is going to get nasty out there. i hope your boat shoes have extra thick rubber soles. >> we have good grip. honestly, democrats, they see this as their debt limit. they don't have to give it all.
they're more than happy at patty murray has said, easier to go forward, we will chalk it up to gop intransigence. this will be a nasty battle. i suspect they will punt. no one wants to deal with this during election. >> winter is coming. luke russert, thank you my friend. coming up, "glee's" tough-talking cheer coach broadens her range as an activist, student loan debt reformer and super pac fund riser, next. [ female announcer ] the power of green coffee extract is now in our new starbucks refreshers™ -- a breakthrough in natural energy. made with real fruit, starbucks refreshers™ are delicious low calorie drinks you can feel good about. ♪ rethink how you re-energize. ♪ get a boost of natural energy with a new starbucks refreshers™, in three ways. natural energy from green coffee extract, only from starbucks.
bullying students. now she's starring in a public service announcement aimed at helping kids and their parents deal with the rising cost of college, part of a new campaign called don't major in debt. actress, altruist, jane lynch joins us now. we have some of the sound from that new psa and it is a great psa and a really important issue. in fact, student loan is the biggest source of american debt after mortgages and yet it is totally underdiscussed. >> yeah. >> how did you come to this issue? >> well, they asked me. i have personal experience in that i have nieces and nephews who, some who are still in college and getting phone calls to pay on some of these loans because they took really bad loans, and i have a niece and nephew out of college who don't have jobs and have to pay on these student loans and one of them has a loan that will not allow them to defer. so college finance center.org which is launching today is a
terrific resource to research your student loans so you go into it with your eyes wide open and you know what will be expected of you. if you are saddled or crippled with this debt when you graduate, you can go to this resource and you will see ways to help, to augment your payments, click resources for you to go to to figure out how to pay this debt off. >> we were focused on the student loan debacle. it wasn't quite a debacle. call it fisticuffs because they figured it out. >> for a year. yeah. >> for one year. amazing how previously bipartisan issues have become sort of fodder for political football. >> right. >> but on the subject of education broadly, there is a student loan rate site, there is also the consumer financial protection bureau which has been controversial depending on who you talk to, they have taken on student loans, predatory lending, payday lenders, as a major focus, yet it remains this highly controversial institution, they are known as overregulators, job killers, whatever rhetoric you choose to
believe. >> i don't choose that rhetoric. i'm glad they're there. >> but you know, when we talk about the country's focus on education, it seems like at one point, not long ago, even under george w. bush, we kind of could come together on the subject and say this has got to be a priority. but now it has become so partisan, i wonder as someone who is in a school setting in the hollywood vein but also is working on issues that affect students, what you make of that. >> well, it's kind of interesting that we look back to the george bush era when we could all get along. yeah, it's just so important. the santorum comment about everybody should have a college education, when a snob. it's almost as if we're dumbing ourselves down. a college education is a terrific opportunity for a i know for me it awakened my natural curiosity for the first time in my life. it was a terrific experience. if a kid wants to go to school now it's really difficult. grants and scholarships are down, way, way down, and there are so many student loans out
there that there's all this fine print and these people, kids and parents, go into these not knowing what they're saying and that's why this college finance center.org website which we're launching today is a terrific resource center for parents and for kids before they embark upon this huge decision. >> when -- before the cameras began rolling i talked to you about the study that says 69% of families eliminated college choices this past academic year because of the cost of college. on your site, we were talking about grants being down, is there a sense that there are resources out there for the kids that need them, or it's more sort of informational get to know at least what is out there and hopefully some of it will work out for you? >> there's some great products out there. go to the site and check it out. i think that if your eyes are wide open and you see what the terms are, you will see there are products out there that will suit people and for the 69% of those people who are saying college is not an option anymore, maybe a bunch of them will see that it can be an
option. >> it's interesting, to save money, 51% of college students lived at home, 55% added a roommate this past year. most of the kids that are living at home are from families making more than $100,000. which is really interesting. which i guess is sort of a feeling of insecurity out there and everybody trying to sort of cut corners or cut costs wherever they can. >> yeah. when i went to school in the late '70s, early '80s, i went to a public university, i didn't have great grades, i got little bits of scholarship, i got student loans and my parents paid for some of it and i was able to get through. nobody has that scenario anymore. we totally demeaned the value of education by making it so hard for kids to go to school. >> and the irony there is if you get a bachelors degree you are much more likely, twice as likely to be employed as if you don't. so the unemployment rate among those 25 and over with a bachelor's degree is 4.1%. if you don't have a high school diploma, 8.4%.
>> it's a huge issue. we're talking about the future here. talking about american citizens not having the education to make the money that will let them have lives as good or better than their parents. this is the first generation where that just may happen. >> you are in a high school setting on television. i wonder to what degree when you're communing with the kids, do you get a sense that they're excited about going to college? >> mostly from "glee" what i get is kids are really excited about making music and being part of a group and being accepted for who they are. that always makes for a better student. that always gives you hope and that always makes you think you can, you know, do better for yourself and perhaps that would include going to college. >> maybe if sue sylvester went to college, a whole college setting for "glee," can we green light that? i don't know. >> let's do it. >> jane, quick last question. talking about sort of the road ahead, education being a partisan issue, politics, this
sort of political arena, trying to change the debate, bring new voices into the fold. i know you're involved with lpac. can you tell us about that in terms of how you guys are kind of trying to change the future of american politics or policy? >> it's the game these days, this whole, the citizens united decision, this whole idea that you need a pac in order to present your issues and i think that the lpac is jumping on that because that's the rule of the game for right now. we'll be focusing on issues of the lgbt community as well as women's issues and we're not a single issue organization but we do want to see equal rights for the lgbt citizens and also women's rights secured. >> i want to see more women in office running for office and participating in the political process. >> i completely agree. lpac exists to do just that. to put forth those candidates and give them some money to get them out there so they can compete.
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-- jesse, a member of the lost generation washed up ashore here on the set now. great to see you. >> i made it. it's come in. >> this is the big leagues. tell us a little bit how this odyssey began. >> well, that is incredible. i graduated from college like so many people around me in may 2009 and the only thing i got was a freelance assignment to go do this crazy idea i had about trying to tell the story of the middle east through surfing. they said send us what you got when you got it. that was enough. i slowly started to stitch together freelance journalist
assignments and slowly made my way around the closed border from israel to lebanon. >> we have a map of your route. you definitely surfed some areas that most people don't surf. i want to ask you two things. the first sort of being the more sensitive question, is we talked about relations in the middle east, the dynamic on the ground there. i would love to know your thoughts as seen through the lens of the folks on the ground, then how is the actual surfing? >> what must be said first, we are a million miles away from it right now in our heads and it's so easy to categorize the arabs are like this, and we can kind of simplify it and see it all as extractions. but when you're there on the ground and kind of meeting people, through surfing which is something i love to do, it humanizes the whole experience. you just kind of sink into it and realize, hey, not all arabs are like this, not all jewish people are like this, and what a trip. they actually even like to surf with each other in northern israel. >> yeah, you have a quote in the
book about -- quoting an arab surfer you met in israel, sure there are problems, this is the middle east, but look what we have here. he pointed towards the mediterranean between the cones and pine trees, we could see the white sandy beach. the sun cast a shimmering gold carpet across the sea. this, the arab said, is what binds us, the land itself. i want to bring you in, steve, because we were talking about hillary clinton and she obviously has been in the middle east -- >> not surfing. >> yes. you like to hang ten in your off-hours. in terms of the dynamic and the very different dance, pushing for middle east peace, how the secretary of state has performed, your thoughts. >> i think it's sort of an extension of what we've seen for the three years basically she's been on the job. it's kind of impressive to me that so much has happened internationally since hillary clinton started as secretary of state. you're talking about the surge in afghanistan, withdrawal from iraq, now the middle east, arab spring and all that.
i think hillary clinton has conducted herself, you look at her approval ratings, look at the popularity, i can't remember somebody in her position being this popular. this has been the best thing that's happened to her sort of in terms of her standing in the country, her prospects for future elected office, her approval rating is close to 70% right now. it's kind of amazing, there has been so much turmoil in the world, a lot of controversy at times over what the obama administration had been doing or hasn't been doing and that controversy had never rubbed off on her during her entire time in office. part of it is i think they've gotten a little lucky in the sense there haven't been major terrorist incidents or anything like that. there was libya, libya ended up working out, at least seemed to work out pretty well, but it is amazing for all the tumult, she has emerged twice as popular as before. >> michael steele, i think hillary clinton has done a bang-up job as secretary of state but there has still been a lot of criticism as steve points out from those on the right about the president's record. the word appeasement is often used. mitt romney talked about not
apologizing. >> lead from behind. >> that kind of thing. it was a curious choice of words. lucky there hasn't been another terrorist attack. white house would probably say we have been working really hard to prevent another terrorist attack. >> a lot of things the republicans talk about is the fact that the obama team basically wholesale adopted the bush strategy with respect to the war on terror, and certainly in continuing some of those efforts in the middle east. hillary has been very well positioned to take advantage of that, to bring her own flavor and spin to it which is great. the interesting aspect of all of this, i would love to get jesse's thought, is the human component of it. you said something which is very important. we here are a million miles away from a lot of that but to get up close and personal knowing the dangers there, whether or not the administration, republican, democrat, liberal, whatever, really appreciate that element that journalists like yourself and others get that close and
see and then get to talk about in terms that are really real, surfing the middle east. people think the internet? no, actually surfing with bombs overhead. >> what are the impressions of americans abroad? >> it's mostly good. it's sort of amazing. while surfing the middle east, i got more questions on popular culture and blue jeans which are two things i really don't know much about. it was very interesting. there's this thing that most americans don't understand is that so many people in the world look in on what we're doing, our global soft power, and that is something i realized while doing this, and sort of being dressed down as a surfer, doing something i love to do, is sort of, you get to hang out and really get access into who these people are and how they think. it's really incredible. it was probably the best part of the trip. >> we have to leave it there. you did not answer my question about the waves and how was the actual surfing? >> it was great.
i have no problem saying that, either, because i don't think anyone's going to start crowding south lebanon, hezbollah controlled. >> the book is "surfing the middle east." thank you very much. coming up, what do john kerry, charlie sheen and jeremy lin all have in common? they are all next. the medicare debate continues in washington... ...more talk on social security... ...but washington isn't talking to the american people. [ female announcer ] when it comes to the future of medicare and social security, you've earned the right to know. ♪ ...so what does it mean for you and your family?
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>> that's as far as you can get. >> it's been stalled in the senate for 20 years, governs the world's oceans but really, let's talk about john kerry. >> that was the perfect audition that's been stalled in the senate. >> kerry, john kerry, will he be our next secretary of state? >> no. >> no? >> no. i'm afraid not. >> it's bobby jindal? >> rob portman. >> tim pawlenty. >> i fear for senator kerry, who desperately wanted to be secretary of state in 2008 and was probably most likely person to become secretary of state until the president decided that hillary clinton was the person he wanted in that job. he very much wants it again this time. i think his problem is that there are two other people who really want that job who are -- one of whom is incredibly close to the president, susan rice, the u.n. ambassador, one of whom is tom donellen. both of those people are close
to the president and have real constituencies around the president. john kerry has the respect of the president but is not close to the president, nor does he have really anybody inside the white house fighting in his corner. it's very hard to get that job if you're not close and don't have the constituency. >> not even the law of the sea tr treaty can get you the job. >> i agree with everything he's saying but play this out. if john kerry became secretary of state, the interesting subtext to that is the loser of this year's scott brown/elizabeth warren race in massachusetts, would have the opportunity theoretically to turn around and run in the special election that would be triggered under massachusetts law immediately upon kerry giving up the seat. if warren loses, governor patrick could appoint her to the senate and she could run as the incumbent. if brown loses he could try to get his seat back. >> moving on, for more luck, charlie sheen is pledging to
donate $1 million to the uso. the donation is believed to be the largest single donation ever given to the organization. that should not be -- we should not, you know, poo-poo that. it is a big deal and great organization for the troops. charlie sheen -- >> it's a great p.r. move. i will be very serious because i have done volunteer work for the uso. they do phenomenal work for not just our soldiers but their families, the kids. we don't always think about the toll that it takes on families back here at home, a lot of whom it's toys, it's books, it's events, it's helping them manage their lives. if $1 million, that could make a real difference in the work they're doing so i say even if you got to get it from a scoundrel, take the check. >> michael steele, we have to go but i will ask you quickly. jeremy lin, we may lose him. we may lose him to the houston rockets. should we lose him? >> since when is that -- >> he's tall. >> i'm tall and it works.
>> you are tall, too. should we lose him? >> see you. >> okay. that's it. >> it's 12 hours, make a direct appeal. look into the camera now. >> jeremy lin, please do not leave new york and please come on to this television program. please stay here. thanks again to john, chairman steele, steve and karen. that's all for now. see you back here tomorrow at noon eastern, 9:00 a.m. pacific when i am joined by hugo lindgren and michael eric dyson. follow us on twitter until then. "andrea mitchell reports" is next. good afternoon, happy tuesday to you. the same to you, alex. thanks for all the lin-sanity. coming up next, new signals from mitt romney today, fueling growing speculation about his vice presidential choice. we'll talk to one of the top contenders, tim pawlenty. a new report from the national urban league on the hidden swing vote in this election. and fixing america's debt. we'll talk to former senator sam
nunn. that and more on "andrea mitchell reports" up next right here on msnbc. the heat wave that grips the country goes all the way from kansas city to the eastern seaboard today. extremely hot day today, even areas of new england near 100, if not above, boston, new york city, mid to upper 90s. d.c., same for you. atlanta may get lucky, get a thunderstorm to cool you off. the only areas to avoid the heat, along the west coast.
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